My Matthew taught himself to do a headstand when he was barely three years old. He can also almost do the splits. I say almost because, try as he might, he's always suspended about four inches off the ground. Then he falls forward, with his legs back behind him, and declares that he's doing them. I tried explaining to him, just the other day, that he was almost doing them. Before I knew it, he'd stripped all of his clothes off, blaming them for his four-inch-failure. The difference between a fully clothed four-year-old trying to do the splits and a naked four-year-old trying to do the splits is simply that one looks funnier than the other. I'll leave it at that and let your imagines run wild.
Two weeks ago, "The Gabby Douglas Story" aired on Lifetime. I decided to record it and let the boys watch. After all, Matthew is actively attempting to do front handsprings across my family room with no training whatsoever. As a result, my furniture and my walls are taking a real beating. One day, I turned on the movie without giving any explanation as to what it was. Realizing that it was some kind of biography, my oldest repeatedly asked, "What is this? What is this about? Huh? Huh? Tell me, tell me, tell me what we're watching. What is this? What is it?"
"Just watch it," I told him.
She had them with her first flip.
He sat, riveted to the story for the full two hours, devastated when it broke for a commercial.
Later, I was telling my mom how much Matthew had loved it.
"We recorded 'The Gabby Douglas' story," I told her. "And Matthew was just riveted." I finally mentioned something about her doing flips and whatnot.
"OH! GABBY DOUGLAS!" My mom finally said. "The GYMNAST! I was thinking that it was the story of the congresswoman who got shot in Arizona and I couldn't understand why Matthew would be interested in that."
Or why I would let my four-year-old watch a biography about a woman who got shot in the head while doing her job, for that matter.
But, you know, Gabby Giffords/Gabby Douglas, it was an honest mistake.
Now, with all the jumping and flipping involved in so many of the winter Olympic sports, it's a real wonder that my son hasn't broken any bones. Apparently, while unattended two days ago, he was teaching himself to flip--by leaping off the couch.
Maybe gymnastics are in that boy's future.
Or perhaps he'll run for Congress.